Somali citizens seeking supplies during Operation Restore Hope. Image online via the Library of Congress.


Somalia is an ancient country whose people are mostly descended from six different clans. With a stunning coastline on the Indian Ocean, it is located in "The Horn" of Africa. Not far from Yemen, it is adjacent to the Arabian Peninsula.

It is believed ancient Egyptians called Somalia the Land of Punt (or, "God's Land"). Because of its coastal location, the country's people long traded with Chinese, Greeks, and Arabs. It is said that Chinese merchants brought giraffes, leopards and tortoises home to their imperial rulers. Livestock is still Somalia's most significant export.

Most of the population are practicing Muslims, as these Somali posters illustrate. Approximately 1% of the people are Christians.

Unlike most countries, Somalis are a homogeneous people. That fact, however, has not stopped them from warring amongst themselves. Famine, often-present in this mostly dry land, has complicated the economic and political situation for years. The infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the world: 125 deaths for every 1,000 births.

For slightly more than two decades, Siad Barre tried to  transform Somalia into a Socialist state. Posters from the time he ruled clearly show an affinity with a Marxist-Leninist revolution. But when Barre was deposed, in 1991, the country descended into chaos.

Following closely on the heels of anarchy was civil war and famine. Refugee camps became the norm as Somalis were forced to leave their destroyed homes in search of food and shelter. Mogadishu, normally a city of about 500,000 people, was overwhelmed. It is estimated that 2 million people crowded its streets.

Somalis were in desperate trouble. Nations of the world, through the auspices of the United Nations, sent humanitarian aid. So did the United States, in its Operation Restore Hope.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jun 19, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"SOMALIA IN TROUBLE" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 01, 2001. Jan 27, 2020.
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